Olivia Elder

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Olivia Elder (1735–80) was the daughter of Revd John Elder (1692–1779), one of the earliest and most prominent of the New Light Presbyterians, minister to the congregation at Aghadowey and author of two of the tracts establishing the New Light Presbyterians. Olivia never married but acted as her father’s housekeeper. For most of her adult life she was an avid reader of English poetry, and when she took to writing it as well she proudly described herself as a ‘poetess’ and ‘one of the Rhyming Class’. She used a wide variety of poetic forms in her writing: verse letters, satires, elegies, outspoken ‘caricaturas’ of friends and enemies, fantasies, versifications of the Bible and ‘epigrams’ inspired by particular events. All this material she transferred to a copybook, now NLI MS 23254.

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